After four games in charge, Carlo Ancelotti will now be painfully aware of the mammoth task he faces at Everton.
The Toffees pulled off one of the most impressive managerial coups in recent memory when they finally secured the services of the highly decorated Italian back in December and with six points from three league games so far, the early signs have been mostly positive.
However, despite the excitement around Goodison Park, it’s clear to see there is still a major amount of surgery needed on the current Everton squad if they’re to fulfil their ambitions and once again become a European juggernaut. This was painfully obvious as the Toffees suffered another humiliating Merseyside derby defeat at Anfield in the FA Cup, this time at the hands of what was largely a team full of youngsters.
So, with the January transfer window now in full swing and the 2020 summer market still to come, how could Everton line-up by the end of the year once Ancelotti has made his mark? We’ve taken a look at some dream, realistic and wildcard scenarios.
1. Everton’s dream 2020 line-up? A marquee signing and friends reunited
- Everton are the favourites to sign James Rodriguez (evens) before 1st February 2020, according to William Hill*.
- They lead the likes of PSG (8/1), Bayern Munich (10/1) and Wolves (16/1) in the race to the Colombian’s signature.
- Rodriguez has played 51 times under Ancelotti in the past.
- Arsenal are favourites to sign Thomas Meunier at 5/1 but Everton aren’t far behind at odds of 10/1.
*You have to be 18+ to gamble. For more information, go to BeGambleAware.org
Since the arrival of Farhad Moshiri as majority shareholder, Everton have tried and failed to make statement signings in an effort to play catch-up with the teams above them. From Wayne Rooney’s failed one-season return to Davy Klaassen’s £23.6m move from Ajax which yielded just seven Premier League appearances, the Toffees’ failings in the market have been many and costly.
That said, the likes of Jordan Pickford and Richarlison show that the investment can be worth it if made in the right areas, while Moise Kean still has plenty of time on his side to recover from his slow start to life at Goodison Park. However, if the rumours are to be believed, a new deal could blow the rest out of the water.
According to the Mirror, Ancelotti has backed a loan move for Real Madrid and Colombia star James Rodriguez. The 28-year-old has never quite managed to hit the world-class heights many thought him capable of following his 2014 World Cup Golden Boot but with 52 goals and 61 assists in 187 appearances for Los Blancos and Bayern Munich, his ability and pedigree remain unquestionable.
Should Rodriguez sign for the Toffees, Ancelotti would likely have to deviate from his favoured 4-4-2 formation, switching to a 4-3-3 to provide his potential star man with some defensive cover – the likes of Andre Gomes and Jean-Philippe Gbamin would be long-term options here, although it’s more likely to be Fabian Delph and Tom Davies while they recover from serious injuries.
Rodriguez would be the fulcrum to Everton’s attack, fulfilling a similar role to Gylfi Sigurdsson in providing defence-splitting passes and moments of pure individual magic, although he’s much more mobile than the Iceland international and could use his trickery to drive at defenders himself. Having a forward line of Kean, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison ahead of him gives Rodriguez plenty of pace and dynamism to aim for with the ball at his feet.
At right-back, you may have noticed the name of Belgium international, Thomas Meunier. The 28-year-old has long been linked with Everton and in an interview with Belgian outlet Het Laatste Nieuws (via Sport Witness) in October, admitted signing for the Toffees would have been “a lot of fun”, despite the fact a move never materialised.
William Hill rate Everton’s chances of signing Meunier at 10/1, with the PSG man struggling to hold down a regular starting berth in Paris. With Djibril Sidibe only at Everton on loan from Monaco and Seamus Coleman’s influence fading with time and age, Meunier represents a proven and seemingly available upgrade at right-back for Ancelotti.
Finally, Everton are still in desperate need of at least one more centre-back having seen Phil Jagielka leave for Sheffield United and Kurt Zouma’s loan end over the summer with no replacement incoming. Michael Keane has struggled for consistency this season, recently having to watch Yerry Mina and Mason Holgate hold down the fort.
The Toffees have been linked with a move for promising Barcelona youngster, Jean-Clair Todibo. The Frenchman has made just three senior appearances for the Blaugrana so far this season and will likely be keen to secure first-team football as soon as possible in order to accelerate his development. Todibo’s ability as a ball-playing centre-back would make him an extremely attractive option for Ancelotti.
2. Everton’s realistic 2020 line-up: Cost-effective solutions
Of course, even with Ancelotti at the helm, Everton’s terrible start to the season means it’s unlikely they’ll be competing in European competition next season, severely hindering their chances of securing stars of Rodriguez’s standing. The Toffees may have to be a little more shrewd in the market when looking to strengthen their squad.
Centre-back remains a priority regardless of where Everton finish up this season. Right now, another potential option is reportedly Nottingham Forest man Joe Worrall. The 22-year-old has won 88 aerial duels in the Championship this season – at least twice as many as any other Forest player – and has quickly become one of the most highly regarded centre-backs outside the English top flight.
The Toffees could face stiff competition from other Premier League clubs for Worrall’s services but, given the lack of strength in depth at Ancelotti’s disposal, may be tempted at a realistic chance of securing regular football in the top tier.
Meanwhile, plenty of signs suggest Kean will remain at Everton – and that he should flourish under Ancelotti – but the fact remains that he continues to be linked with a move back to Italy.
Moise Kean to leave Everton? The latest odds with William Hill…
- Kean is yet to score his first goal for Everton.
- The 19-year-old has started just three Premier League games for the club.
- As a result, he’s now being linked with a return to Italy.
- Moise Kean to sign for before February 1st 2020: Napoli (2/1), AC Milan (11/4), AS Roma (4/1), Lazio (11/2), Bologna (7/1).
If Kean does indeed depart back to his homeland, it will eave a hole up front which will definitely need filling – especially given Cenk Tosun’s struggles on Merseyside.
William Hill are currently offering odds of 10/1 for Rangers star Alfredo Morelos to make a move to Goodison Park before the end of the 2020 January transfer window, while former Everton defender Alan Stubbs believes his old club could do much worse than to sign the controversial Colombian.
Yes, Morelos is prone to moments of madness and can be his own worst enemy. However, his incredible record in front of goal for Rangers speaks for itself, while his Duncan Ferguson-esque approach to the game is certain to endear him to the Everton faithful, should he deliver in the 18-yard box.
Both these signings represent realistic and cost-effective solutions to two big problem areas for Everton, while their right-back conundrum could be solved by taking up their permanent option on Sidibe.
3. Everton’s wildcard 2020 line-up: Raiding Napoli
Given that the Napoli players backed Ancelotti during his fallout with controversial owner Aurelio De Laurentiis, it should come as no surprise to see not one, not two, but three of their players now linked with Everton. This is the wildcard section, so it seems just about right that arguably the most wildcard owner in world football could sell three of his star players to one club.
Piotr Zielinski has become a mainstay for Napoli and is a brilliant all-round midfielder – the Poland international has created 23 chances, completed 20 dribbles and made 18 tackles in 17 Serie A appearances so far this season. Given Everton’s long and short-term injury issues in the middle of the park, Zielinski would represent an incredible piece of business for Ancelotti and reports in Italy suggest the 25-year-old may feature high on his former manager’s wishlist.
Lorenzo Insigne and Dries Mertens should be no strangers to the Everton fanbase, having scored a combined 199 goals for the Partenopei. The former is only 28 and given his status as club captain, would certainly cost a pretty penny, and that’s before negotiating his contract. But according to Le10 Sport, Ancelotti sees his compatriot as the perfect man to add more cutting edge to an inconsistent Everton attack.
Mertens, however, is now 32 and is entering the final months of his contract. Despite his age, the Belgium international has lost none of that pace or agility and could offer Ancelotti a brilliant link man through the middle for 18 months at least. Italian outlet Calciomercato (via Sport Witness) have linked Everton with the forward and, again, given his contract situation, he may be available at a cost-effective price, depending on Napoli’s view of his worth.